Old Fat-Guy Makes it in Spite of Himself
07 November 2022
Well, the "short" of it is that after a few miscalculations, geriatric embarrassments and what have you, the B24 is safely in its new home at Jennings Boatyard in Reedville, VA. The lessons are many but primarily;  a sailor should allow enough time to learn the essentials of the boat (especially the equipment aboard),  start with enough time for the planned trip and of course  plan your steps in advance as much as possible.
The third item is especially important for a solo sailor, regarding planning in advance, since on a small boat with no self steering it is not feasible to spend lots of time at the chart-table (yep, this little B24 has one). I felt I'd made a good stab at planning ahead -- at least as far as weather and navigation -- had spent an evening studying the chart and identifying the GPS track/route/waypoints for the expected 120 nm trip, and had them all logged into the Garmin 78sc and foresaw no issues there. The other items were more a matter of "haste makes waste...," or nearly so.
My initial error was that I started out from Williamsburg almost a day and a half later than I'd originally allowed for, and since I had a semi-hard arrival time to allow me to be at my desk early Monday morning, I couldn't easily extend/delay. More on that later (perhaps), but by starting off from Williamsburg later than I'd planned meant a day and a half boring motor-sailing down the James river; following buoy after buoy to Willoughby Bay.
Willoughby Bay is in the middle of one of the eastern US's busy naval ports and is an often used anchoring spot for civilian pleasure-boats transiting through the Newport News/Norfolk area. Two days of mild, almost windless conditions from Williamsburg, with official weather predictions of more lazy down-wind motor-sailing, lulled the geriatric skipper (who a week later turned seventy-five) into complacency. I found myself half-snoozing in the cockpit on a sunny, mild Saturday morning, making lazy course adjustments to avoid ever-present commercial shipping and tugs with tows of barges, as well as occasional naval vessels.
The fly in the ointment was my gross unfamiliarity with the boat, indeed the previous owner had actually hanked on the sails in an effort to get me going more quickly -- trying to be helpful. I'd owned a B24 for some years previously, so had confidence in the design, but this particular boat was brand new to me. Indeed, we got to the boat at Williamsburg, installed a new battery, threw my duffels on and was on my way in less that forty-five minutes (as noted; haste makes waste... probably a lesson there somewhere). And, as I was to find out, the fact that there was no stowage for the oversized anchor (Bruce/claw type -- apparently exceptional holding, but very, very heavy for these geriatric arms), nor a haus/deck pipe to lead the rode below deck; meant the whole affair just sat in a loose pile of chain and anchor on the foredeck where the previous owner had piled it.
But, what the heck -- it was a sunny, almost windless day, what's the issue?
This lack of anchor stowage is clearly un-seaman like, but the arrangement wasn't of much consequence, until two days later on Saturday (Shabbat) afternoon about halfway up the Bay, when the wind piped up, gusting to about double the forecasted 12-15 kts, and in one of the rolls when the semi-alert skipper was inattentive, the anchor, chain and the whole shooting match went over the side -- although all still tied to a bow-cleat... at that point I was still sailing downwind (more like bounding in 2-4 foot, occasionally breaking chop), but it was now blowing 20 something, gusting to 30 with sunny skies, accompanying by singing in the rigging (I later checked the buoy data, so these numbers aren't just a figment of white-knuckled, paranoid imagination); thankfully this loss of the heavy anchor and 75-plus feet of chain all happened in deeper water in mid-Bay and the boat's downwind speed apparently made it stream, so it didn't grab the bottom, but had to cut it free. Even at anchor I was nearly pooped just pulling it in, and by now this old skipper was far too exhausted at that point to drag it all back aboard -- the Creator guided the boat since I was occupied freeing the ground tackle from where it was entangled.
After all this, I heard a rattling, clanging commotion in the motor-well and eventually noticed that auxiliary outboard motor had come loose (although it had been puttered contentedly for two days, it was apparently not firmly clamped down -- thankfully it was not running once the wind piped up) and was just rattling around in the well... so by dusk of Saturday, after a series of usually harmless operator errors, I found I had no anchor and no motor, and was zipping downwind with too much sail (using a "fishermen's reef" to keep things quieted down) at times apparently bumping above 8kts according to my GPS recorder; oh well.., it is a sailboat, right? So, sail the thing...
The Father is good and He got me through to Reedville okay, by about 02:00 -- now with a list of several forthcoming modifications; some of them quite necessary, some just because I think they'd be neat.
But, not to keep folks in suspense -- all's well, and the Bristol is safely in a slip... but once again I'd relearned one of the critical lessons of my earlier posts; the skipper's responsibility, even when solo, is absolute!
Well, what's old is new -- to me at least
27 October 2022
It appears that there may be another Bristol Corsair (B24) in my future. After letting Angels Wings go a few years ago (our previous Bristol 24) in a moment of haste, I've become increasingly sorry over the intervening time not to have her. Wings was a solid sailing boat, but esthetically she was no prize, and the ODay looked much cleaner (it is) and of course has probably twice the interior room of our B24.
The ODay 30 is a good boat, in decent condition and a well known design with few unknowns when sailing, but I've decided that I'll finish up the refurbishing of Sanctuary, our ODay 30, get her back in the water and then put her up for sale.
If all goes well, in the next few weeks we'll have a new-to-us Bristol 24, with fairly recent standing rigging and I am hopeful that she'll pick right up where Angels Wings left off.
More to follow -- watch this space.
08 July 2022
It's been awhile, but after chatting with some boat-builders (professionals), it appears that I probably should remove the gelcoat in the areas I plan to add glass and epoxy... given that strength is far more the issue that esthetics (for me, at least), I ordered a couple of 60grit abrasive wheels to hopefully speed the process of gelcoat removal, and then I can get back to the task at hand...
13 September 2021
The progress is barely discernable, but there it one looks closely. I'm not much of a whizz at this, so I read a lot, ask questions and then go slowly, very slowly -- plus it has been blazing hot, and I've found that 70-somethings don't have the stamina of 20-somethings. Oh well this is a several day effort -- still using G-Flex 655, with a base layer of 10oz glass followed by a layer of 1708 with the same G-Flex... now to do this all along the hull/keel joint and then add several layers... more to come (I hope).
Work sort of progresses...
20 July 2021
Finally ground down the joint at the rear of the keel, as well as the front. Discovered that ODay probably had started this mess as there were clear air-bubbles in the laminate right where it needed to be the strongest. Spent some time thinking through this and decided to go with G-Flex 655 (the jell) as this will be in an area where adhesions and flexibility may play a big role in keeping the areas buttoned up (flexibility and adhesion are two areas that G-Flex is supposedly good at -- compared to their normal 105 Epoxy). Anyway, ground out the air-bubbles as well as surrounding cracks and filled with a mixture of G-Flexx 655 and and silica. We'll see...
Thoughts, Thoughts and more thoughts...
16 May 2021
Well, the autobody finisher/conditioner went quite well (Eastwood SCT) with only 120grit flapper wheels... I've elected to not worry about getting all the gelcoat off... in chatting with folks in the yard, they said to simply scuff the surface after removing al the bottom paint from the area and them use G-Flex (which I was planning to do anyway) to lay up 1708.
But another issue has popped up... since the SCT made short work of smoothing out the hull/keel joint area I crawled back in the rear of the boat to scout out mounting areas for the HydroVane... and discovered that the plywood support knees for the rudder-shaft housing have essentially delaminated... oh well, the boat is approaching 40-something years old, so i guess it is what it is -- but that will need to be redone and the whole housing strengthened I suppose -- still thinking on this, but the main issue is that the area is quite small for a 270#, 70-something so this will take a moment or two to figure out...
In the meantime, I've made some inquiries about having some mast-pulpits (granny bars) fabricated -- this is yet in the nice to have category, but is like the steering vane is something I've long envissioned...